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  India   All India  30 Sep 2019  Odisha surging ahead in sports to show its new face to world

Odisha surging ahead in sports to show its new face to world

THE ASIAN AGE. | AKSHAYA KUMAR SAHOO
Published : Sep 30, 2019, 2:09 am IST
Updated : Sep 30, 2019, 2:09 am IST

The next that the state eyes to build is the world-class infrastructure so as to vie for 2030 Olympics.

Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar has emerged as one of the finest hockey grounds in the world.
 Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar has emerged as one of the finest hockey grounds in the world.

Bhubaneswar: Having taken a pioneering role in promotion of various sports and games in the country in recent years, Odisha is making diligent efforts to emerge as one of the best global sporting venues. And to accomplish this mission, the state's political leadership and bureaucrats are working hard.

Led by chief minister Naveen Patnaik himself, the state has already emerged as the sports capital of India. It hosted Men's Hockey Champions Trophy 2014, Asian Athletics Championships 2017, Men's Hockey World League Finals 2017, Indian Super League 2017-2018, Hero Super Cup 2018-2019, National Open Athletics Championships 2018, Asia Rugby Girls U-18 Rugby 7s Championships 2018, Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup 2018, Indian Super league 2019, AIFF 4-nations Women's Hero Gold Cup 2019, FIH Series Finals and the very recent 21s Commonwealth Table Tennis 2019.

These events have brought Odisha global recognition.

The next that the state eyes to build is the world-class infrastructure so as to vie for 2030 Olympics.

Vishal Dev, the state's sports commissioner-cum-secretary who is credited with conceptualising and executing almost all the sports events, has been the key figure in giving shapes to the dreams of the chief minister.

“In the past, Odisha was known for other reasons, including its backwardness. The state has now made strides on all sectors, including governance, agriculture, industry and poverty reduction. Our enviable accomplishments in promotion of sports have given us new identity. Celebrated national and international sportspersons, dignitaries and tourists who visited the state during Hockey World Cup have appreciated our world-class infrastructure and ability to organise big events,” Mr Dev said in an interview with this newspaper.

The sports administrator dreams not only to build sports infrastructure and organise global events, but also to engage youths of the state in sports activities.

"Our chief minister Naveen Patnaik has given a slogan - ‘Sports for youth, youth for future.’ In fact, youth is the critical medium…that connection gets established. Now, we are scouting for young sports talents to provide them the best possible care and training so that they can excel at global competitions,” added Mr Dev.

Stating that Odisha had produced some of the world's best hockey players like Dilip Tirkey, Lazrus Balra, Birendra Lakra, Ignace Tirkey, Jyoti Sunita Kullu, Lazarus Barla, Prabodh Tirkey and Subhadra Pradhan, Mr Dev said the state government was working on further development of the sport in rural areas. Plans are being made to lay hockey turf in all the blocks of Sundargarh district and some specific areas in Sambalpur and Deogarh districts where local children and youth play the game, he informed.

Odisha, the official sponsor of national hockey squad, has already its own hockey team - Kalinga Lancers. And, its Kal-inga Stadium in Bhubaneswar has emerged as one of the finest hockey grounds in the world.

“Come November, we will be hosting the Hockey Olympic Qualifiers where Indian (men and women) team will be battling it out for the coveted berths. Men will face Russia, while women will face the USA. It is going to draw a lot of crowd from across the state and we are expecting an influx of fans from other states as well. Kalinga Stadium once again will be the centre of attraction for the global sporting fraternity and we are quite excited about hosting it,” the sports secretary said, adding, there was a 70 per cent jump in tourist inflow to the state in the last Hockey World Cup.

Football has become another priority for the Odisha government. The state has been a preferred partner for professional football clubs and the All India Football Federation. In the past, the magnificent Kalinga Stadium has hosted a home game of Jamshedpur FC in the Indian Super League (ISL), home games of the team Indian Arrows in the Hero I-league, two editions of the Hero Super Cup and India's First 4 Nations International Senior Tournament — the Hero Gold Cup.

On August 31, 2019, the state sports and youth services department and Delhi Soccer Private Limited signed an agreement to launch the Indian Super League club "Odisha FC" in Bhubaneswar.

“This project is a significant step in furthering the outreach of football amongst budding footballers and sports lovers alike,” he added.

In fact, Odisha is planning to float junior and youth football teams at the grassroots to groom budding talents.

Tags: naveen patnaik, kalinga stadium